CRANDON - A new Pew Research study conducted in February shows that a large majority of Americans support treatment for non-violent drug users instead of mandatory jail sentences.
67 percent of people surveyed believe the government and courts should focus on treatment for drug users.
Judges and prosecutors face a tough judgement and balance of figuring out the appropriate punishment for non-violent drug users in court.
Forest County Prosecutor Chuck Simono says he sees a remarkably high number of repeat offenders in the county even after spending time in jail.
"Just from what I've seen in Forest County over the last six years, I would put the recidivism rate in excess of 70 to 80 percent," Simono said.
Many Wisconsin communities are turning to drug treatment courts. It's a program with courts for non-violent drug users that combines treatment, sanctions, drug tests and care for when they've stopped using drugs.
Simono says the social movement has shifted to more of a focus on treatment to get people rehabilitated and back in the community. He seems more hopeful for people successfully going through a drug treatment program.
"They're going to return to the community, they're going to get a job, they're going to be productive," Simono said. "They're going to help contribute to a positive way of life rather than what we see when we just jail people."
Leaders in Forest County, including the Forest County Potawatomi, hope to form a treatment court to help users and cut costs.
"The cost to just continually jail individuals is just enormous," Simono said. "Unfortunately for some individuals that's going to be the only answer, others will find treatment successful."
Prosecutors, judges and social workers want to rehabilitate everyone, but sometimes even treatment isn't the answer. Simono says some people decline treatment for jail instead. Others repeatedly go through treatment without fully grasping the rehab.
"We have others that insist on treatment that have been five times already," Simono said. "They're still not adapting and utilizing the coping skills that they've been acquiring over all of their trips to treatment."
Leaders in Forest County hope to win a federal grant that would pay for the setup of the court.
The treatment court could be running as soon as this year if they win the grant, but the county and Forest County Potawatomi don't have the funding to start the court without federal help.
Wisconsin has around 50 drug treatment courts throughout the state.
PELICAN LAKE - Tribal members from across Wisconsin held a Deep Winter Camp to pass on parts of their cultures. Members from several different tribes wanted to give kids the chance to experience a piece of their culture. They hope the camp encourages younger members to keep traditions going and never forget where they came from. "They're going to be the next teachers they're good kids and we all love every kid that came here and spent time with us. They all learned something and they'll take it back and teach others," said Lac du Flambeau Band Vice Chairman John Johnson Sr.
CRANDON - Forest County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Justice was justified in shooting and killing 31-year-old Brandon Cude on Jan. 4, Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono ruled Friday.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice released the results of its investigation in the case, and Simono's decision, Friday afternoon.
The DOJ documents detail how Cude swung a shotgun at Justice at close range. The deputy had just learned Cude had felony warrants against him, and Justice was trying to arrest Cude. Justice fired four shots on the scene, a rural road south of Crandon.
"He didn't get a shot off?" a fellow officer asked Justice after the shooting.
"No. He tried, though. Pulled that sucker out and pointed it right at me," Justice replied in an exchange recorded on a body camera.
MINOCQUA - Many Lakeland Union High School parents kept their children home from school Friday. Threats to shoot up the school felt all too real after 17 people died in a Florida school this week. The high school stayed open Friday, however the atmosphere felt different. Friday students walked through a crowd of police and sat in nearly empty classrooms. "I didn't want to take the chance that something was going to happen to my son," said Lakeland Union High School parent Jennifer Stough.
Stough's 17- year- old son Zach had a lot to look forward to this weekend. Instead she kept him home Friday. "I have friends that went to school today and that makes me nervous," said Zach. Yesterday a student and teacher found shooting threats on a ladies bathroom stall suggesting a repeat of what happened in Florida.
"It's not a joke and we take these things seriously," said Minocqua Police Chief Dave Jaeger. Minocqua police quickly got involved. However, the threats didn't stop there.
EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County officers can now respond to active shooter calls better prepared.
All deputies and patrol offices now have access to steel-plated body armor, something only the Vilas County SWAT Team had before.
"We want to make sure our staff are fully protected," said Vilas County Sheriff's Office Captain Gerard Ritter. "I never want to see anything happen to any one of my staff. And we should outfit them with the protection they need."
Before the new body armor, Ritter said officers and deputies only had access to soft body armor.
"The weave material is designed to stop or slow down a projectile," said Ritter.
Officers will still wear the soft-bodied armor every day, but in active shooter situations, officers can now essentially double up on protection, protection once only offered to the SWAT Team.
"There has been an increase in active shooter incidences across the United States," said Ritter.
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